Dead rat found in seniorís mouth, suit alleges

Calif. nursing home that increased beds while cutting staff denies allegation

SANTA ANA, Calif. - Staffing was so inadequate at a California senior center that a rat crawled into an Alzheimer's patient's mouth and died there before staff noticed, a lawsuit claims.
The lawsuit, filed Thursday on behalf of 90-year-old Sigmund Bock, alleges that administrators at the Paragon Gardens Assisted Living and Memory Care Community in Mission Viejo overbooked their facility to receive corporate bonuses, but cut back on staff to increase profits.
"The facility so literally ignored the needs of their residents ... as to allow vermin in the form of a rat to become lodged in the mouth of Sigmund Bock and die therein," the lawsuit alleges.

Melody Chatelle, a spokeswoman for Sunwest Management Inc., the Oregon-based company that operates Paragon, denied the allegations.
"We take care of our residents, and find this negative publicity to be a disheartening affront to our professional caregivers and most especially to our residents and their loved ones," she said.
Chatelle said that Bock was found holding a glue trap that had been placed in his room by a pest control company to catch a single field mouse. She said the dead field mouse was inside the trap when Bock picked it up.
Bock's attorney, Stephen Garcia, challenged that account. He said two traps were placed in Bock's room and both were laced with poison, not glue.
ER report said rat was in mouth
He said Paragon records show a staff person noticed Bock "playing with a rat in his room and eating candy ... with the rat" on the morning of March 18. A short time later, Garcia said, paramedics called to the scene noted "possible ingestion of rat poison" in their report and an emergency room file says that Bock was "found in room in care facility with dead rat in mouth."
Bock is now being treated at another facility, Garcia said. The lawsuit seeks unspecified punitive damages and attorney and court fees.
The lawsuit is the latest in a string of troubles for Paragon Gardens.
Last year, the state moved to revoke Paragon Gardens' license after a 71-year-old dementia patient wandered from the facility and was never found. The state Department of Social Services also claimed six clients were injured from improper care, according to spokesman Michael Weston. The company has appealed.
The state is also investigating Bock's case after receiving an anonymous report on March 23, Weston said.
Copyright 2007 The Associated Press.
Libra Girl
Whatever really occurred in that event at the facility is neither here nor there... demetia patients playing with rats at any time, never mind whilst eating candy, beggars belief! The fact that another dementia patient was able to wander away from the place, never to be found again, shows consistent neglect by staff over a period of time, and is therefore totally unacceptable! Having said that, there seems to be some discrepancy in what is the real story here... either it was a rat, (one would think too large to crawl into anyone's mouth without the patient choking) or it was a field mouse, which are quite small, and one could swallow such a scenario, (no pun intended) at a push, but with reservations. If rat poison was used to eliminate vermin, it certainly shouldn't have been placed where a patient, especially one with dementia, came into contact with it! It's possible that the patient, in a state of dementia may have tried to eat the rat/field mouse, that had already ingested poison, and that the call for medics was just a precautionary measure in the event that the patient had consumed any poison also... in any event, it is clear that the facility have a lot of problems, and appear to be unfit to provide the care necessary for patients.

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